Dennis Waterman rebuked for comments on hitting wife

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Actor Dennis Waterman has been accused of trivialising domestic violence after he described hitting his ex-wife Rula Lenska – but said she was not “a beaten wife”.

The New Tricks actor, best known for playing Terry McCann in Minder, said he was “very, very ashamed” of the attack.

He said: “The problem with strong, intelligent women is that they can argue, well. And if there is a time where you can’t get a word in ... I lashed out.”

In a TV interview, Waterman said he might have had too much to drink to remember everything that happened. He said: “I must have punched her one time because she did have a black eye,” adding: “She certainly wasn’t a beaten wife, she was hit and that’s different.”

Sandra Horley, chief executive of national domestic violence charity Refuge, said Waterman “alone” was responsible for his violent behaviour.

She said: “I am appalled by Dennis Waterman’s comments about his violence toward Rula Lenska, which trivialise the abuse he inflicted on her. It doesn’t matter whether he hit her once, twice or a dozen times – no man is entitled to hit his wife and domestic violence is never acceptable. It is against the law.”

Denise Welch, who is a friend of Lenska, said on ITV’s Loose Women: “I have spoken to her this morning and she knew that we were going to discuss it and all that she wants to say is that she is glad that he’s eventually admitted it because, several years ago, when the marriage broke up and she first came out and made these allegations, she has since then been perceived as a liar by many quarters, some in the press and some from other people. So she is relieved he’s eventually said it.”